6 Mosquito Repellent PlantsDon't let the bugs of spring and summer get you down! Invite these 6 plants into your garden for not only their colorful and fragrant display, but also their ability to keep those uninvited mosquitoes out.
Most insect-repelling plants do so with their naturally occurring fragrances. Not only will these plants keep annoying insects at a minimum, they will also introduce wonderful scents all throughout your garden or patio. Place these plants in areas where guests will be often such as by a seating area or a doorway.
We consulted with the New York Botanical Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and Plantshed for the best options. So along with the beer and hot dogs you have to pick up at the grocery store, it may be a good idea to also invest in a few of these plants.
Known for its distinct smell, citronella grass is the most commonly used natural ingredient in mosquito repellants. In fact, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden recommends lemon-scented plants such as citronella grass to keep mosquitoes at bay. And the good news is that the living plant is the most effective at repelling pests. This low maintenance plant does best in large planters because it cannot withstand frost, but in warmer climates, can be planted directly a sunny area in the ground. Also, when buying Citronella, make sure you buy Cybopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus, which are true varieties. Get design ideas for using grasses in your garden.
Catmint (catnip) can be found thriving almost anywhere. It is from the mint family and grows abundantly both as a commercial plant and as a weed. It is very easy to take care of and may even start to invade other areas of your garden. However, if you are willing to forgo this plant’s insidious nature, they are amazing mosquito repellants and another recommendation from the BBG. In a study at Iowa State University, catmint was found to be ten times more effective than DEET, the chemical used in most insect repellants.
Another great mosquito repellant is rosemary. Both the New York Botanical Garden and PlantShed recommended this plant. Rosemary is an herb that many of us are very familiar with and their woody scent is exactly what keeps mosquitoes as well as cabbage moths and carrot flies away. They do best in hot and dry climates and thrive in containers, which may be ideal for areas with winters. They can also be pruned into all sorts of shapes and sizes and make great borders or decorations. While the pests stay away you can enjoy the herb’s scent and also use it to season your cooking.
Basil is another herb that can also double as a pest repellent. The pungent smell the basil leaves give off are what keep pests at bay. And since all kinds of basil work to keep flies and mosquitoes at bay, feel free to explore and find the right types of basil to mix into your garden. This herb likes to be kept damp, needs good drainage, and enjoys lots of sun. You can plant basil in containers or in the garden, alone or with other flowers, as long as both plants meet the same requirements.
Another recommendation from NYBG is lavender. Have you ever noticed that insects or even rabbits and other animals have never decimated your lavender plant? It is because of their lovely fragrance, which comes from its essential oils that are found on the leaves of the plant. It is even argued that lavender oil hinders a mosquito’s ability to smell! This plant is very tough and drought-resistant once established, and only needs full sun and good drainage. And while it can endure many climates, it thrives in warmer areas. Get advice on pruning lavender.
Scented geraniums seem to be a popular mosquito repelling plant. Recommended by PlantShed, BBG, and NYBG, the favored scent seems to be lemon scented, which is reminiscent of citronella grass. They are beautiful blooms with a strong fragrance that keep several types of pests away. These fast growing plants like warm, sunny, and dry climates, but if you are in a cold climate area, they can be grown in planters with constant pruning. Check out our article about growing rose-scented geraniums.